American Idol: And the Winner Is...

Ladies and Gentleman, the newest winner of American Idol is Phillip Phillips, a 21-year-old pawn shop worker from Leesburg, Georgia. His low-key charisma and straightforward guitar skills earned him a majority of viewers' record 132 million votes and a victory over 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez, the tiny doll with a soaring voice.

As a TV commentator I'm legally obligated to mention that Phillip Phillips is now the fifth consecutive white male guitar player to take home the title. But for those of us less interested in cynical exercises and who maybe just like to be entertained by handsome singers with distinctive sensibilities, America made the right choice! Among the many things this season of American Idol did right—no really! This was a solid season—it actually allowed Phillip Phillips to create a persona for himself that seemed like someone you'd like to hear on the radio or see live in concert. You know, an actual, singular star. The judges typically declined to critique his growly singing voice and usually just encouraged him to do this thing; the producers wrote him an incredible original song (the Mumford & Sons-esque "Home"); and the viewers embraced him from the start. It's not rocket science, just good TV.

If you've watched this show long enough and read enough commentary about it, you know there's this bizarre, widespread understanding that we're supposed to vote for people who can sing to the mountaintops. But is that really what makes for good entertainment? Stars don't always sing perfectly (see: Jennifer Lopez's finale performance) and Top 40 radio is not about who can scream loudest about overcoming adversity. Personally, what I want out of an American Idol is someone with a catchy tune and an appealing point of view. Phillip Phillips was that person this season. Authentic, unvarnished, secretly hilarious: He never bored me. He wore his influences proudly—Dave Matthews and Johnny Lange were the most clichéd points of comparison—but if he's this good at distilling down the best parts of American folk rock now, just imagine what he'll do post-Idol.

Because the ratings weren't so hot this season, it's widely rumored that the producers will be looking to retool the show for next year. If I may offer a suggestion, it would be to continue rounding out the contestants as full-blown artists rather than propping them up as spangly karaoke performers. If they've written music, let us hear it! If they want to dance, let them dance! This season did a great job of dressing stages for the singers by providing backup musicians (like that hot lady saxophonist!), backup singers, even extras. These stagings really enhanced the visual aspect of each performance, giving us more artistry to become invested in. But the main thing I'd like to see is more original songs throughout the season and not just on finale night. Phillip Phillips' finale song, "Home," was a real stunner (that marching band!) and possibly won him the title during the span of those three minutes. But even Jessica's song, "Change Nothing," while nowhere near as great, still made her seem like an actual pop star with something new to say. TL;DR I dig creativity in my pop stars.

Anyway, if you didn't watch last night's finale, then you missed some genuinely memorable moments. During her surprise duet with Jessica Sanchez, original Dreamgirls Tony-winner Jennifer Holliday made some of the craziest faces I've ever seen on live television. Joshua Ledet kinda fell on his butt during a group number. Ace Young proposed to Diana DeGarmo. BOTH Fantasia Barrino and Chaka Khan wore outrageously unflattering sequined bodysuits. But in all sincerity, one moment was truly memorable, and it was Phillip Phillips emotionally crumbling during his victory performance. Imagine six months of the most intense pressure of your life culminating in one glorious moment... I probably wouldn't have been able to finish my song either! If this doesn't move you, then your heart ain't beating:

Let's not be jaded. This was great TV. Congratulations, Phillip Phillips!

QUESTIONS: ... Were YOU happy with the outcome?
... How did Season 11 stack up against past seasons?
... How would you change the show for Season 12?

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you must be "gay" it's so obvious
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Very well said,Price.I agree 100%.

I think that the reason this season was so awesome and fun to watch is because they found so many amazing people this year.
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Agree with everything as well. Phillip's the only one I downloaded, and wonder how many downloads he had ..... millions? He'll be fun to watch, just hope he can endure the cheesy tour!
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I agree with every single thing you said here! There is no question that there were some amazing singers in the bunch, Jessica right at the top of the list but Phillip was the only person I thought hey I can't wait to buy that album because it's gonna be awesome. The only person in all of the seasons of idol actually that I have felt so truly confident that their music was gonna be for me after Idol. So mainstream or not, he is right up my motherfrackin alley :)
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And what was about those bodysuits?!

Ladies, you're awesome singers but try a pantsuit next time.
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He's an amazing, humble ARTIST. He will not sell milions or records, because he's not really mainstream. he's true to himself, his style and his musical taste. That's why I love him most and the fact that he is so ridiculosly cute is helping a lot.



BTW - The song ''Home" is not an original. It was written by Greg Holden & Drew Pearson
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YES! Finally, a decent winner! I love Phillip!
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132 million votes?



But only 36 comments, 14 likes, and 3 tweets of your article after one day?



hmmm...what's with that?



Too bad, because this is a very well written article Price Peterson.



Thank you.
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Indeed, love it!

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"Is it White boy day today?" as drexl in true romance asked. Serious question for the review writer, who cares what you think about chaka or jennifers outfits, they are happy with the way they looked, so why dont you keep your smirky remarks about them to yourself, and concentrate on the music. I didn't see any review of phillip bring his mediocre shtick to fogerty's classic's and deflating them. As fogerty, and aerosmith showed you go all in or the results dont move people. Philli Vanilli did not move anyone, he couldn't even hold the stage on his own specially written song. That wasn't memorable, it was bland. Jessica on the other hand soared. She challenged Jennifer Holliday, and the two of them created a masters performance, not unlike fogerty and aerosmith. Phillips winning while the octave spanning jessica sanchez, or the sam cooke/ terence trent d'arby - like voice of joshua ledet get sidelined is a travesty. Music and melody will continue to be made, and both those artists will create things I will buy. Phillips....not so much! I
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ok...I'm sorry but if you are getting up on stage and in front of millions of tv viewers, your clothing is subject to judgement. These people are stars and as such are aware of that, some just choose not to care. Which is great, kudos to them! But you cannot act as if Price was being snarky in making an observation about what was intentionally put out there for everyone to see/comment on.

As far as Phil, there is no question that technically speaking Jessica and Joshua had him beat but the true fact is that that's not all it takes to be a success in this competition, obviously given the votes. It's also true that you do not have to have an technically amazing voice to move people with your artistry. All that being said, to each their own opinions, looking forward to seeing what all of these artists do!
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i think subconsciously everyone knew the first second that Phillip was shown on camera that he was going to own season 11. he has crazy charisma, never compromised who he was for the show and most all he never claimed he was a great singer, he just made great music. music that he genuinely loved. i really wish him a great career. Congrats Psquared!
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nicely said
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Also glad he won. He deserved it. Plus it adds to the other stars that are coming out of our town. Buster Posey, Phillip Phillips, and Luke Bryan.
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So so happy that Phillip won!! He was my choice sing the beginning of the season. I can't wait to hear his post-Idol music.



I would say Season 11 has to be one of the best seasons. Of the Top 12/13 they had, I only really disliked DeAndre. The others were all quite talented and enjoyable to watch.



I personally disliked Jimmy Iovine most times. His singular critiques made me want to throw things at my TV most nights.



Jennifer Holiday looked insane. Swear to god that I thought at one point she was going to eat Jessica. That and the beginning reminded me of some uber bad kung fu movie where the mouth moves but sound is delayed 10 seconds lol
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LOL I swear I thought she was gonna have an aneurysm on stage
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Can't really agree. I thought the all the medleys in the finale really exposed the voices of all the male singers except for Josh (and perhaps the guy with the "Something About Mary" haircut) while all the female singers were fairly solid but not great.

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I am so happy that he won. He was my favorite all year. However, last years winner is my least favorite ever and everyone I know who isn't watching this year says it's because of Scotty and the way everything went down last year. That's coming from people who live in Texas and love country music, I can't speak for everybody, but I think the ratings slump has to do with that. I think the judges did a much better job of picking contestants this year.
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I'm thrilled that he won. I'm actually annoyed that the entire race thing has been brought up so often...because I honestly didn't feel it was an issue and I'm usually more aware of that myself. I think it came down to artistry and personality. I loved Jessica. She had an amazing voice...a true powerhouse but she was limited. She could only sing ballads...nothing up tempo...and she lacked stage presence and personality. When she performed it was like watching a teen in a pageant. She didn't connect well with the audience. And a strong voice isn't the be all and end all in the industry..that much is apparent becuase half the people out there these days can't even sing! Phillip is an artist. He had personality. He had the soulful crooning that touched many...he could glide into a few categories...everything from soft rock to blues, soul, light pop...even some country. He has a bit more of a universal sound that reaches more people. Plus he's an actual artist...which is a dying thing in the industry these days. He can sing, he can write, and he can play instruments. We're starved for more artistry these days. He also was very charasmatic but humble...great personality, he got through to the audience...not just young girls. And he knows who he is as an artist and didn't once feel the need to compromise himself in the process. That's why the "White Guys With Guitars" may have had an edge...or at least David Cook, Phillip, and Lee. They all are artist in their own right, creative, humble, and had actual presence. And the ways in which David and Phillip could change up a song had me looking forward to seeing them perform every week.



- Hmm I don't remember half the people. Joshua (Mantasia) was amazing. Jessica had some great peformances and a great talent. I was one of the rare few who didn't mind DeAndre's falsetto (though I loathed the hair) and Phillip was amazing from his audition onwards. It was strong but didn't get really interesting until the end.



- Give the contestants more leeway. I like that they allowed them to play instruments if they wanted. Loved that they had backup singers and musicians and pretty much put a little concert on every single week. I think they should run with that. If they're going to be in the industry they have to figure out who they are as artist and they can't do that if other people keep telling them what to do. I also think J LO should be banned from performing and/or promoting anything she's doing. Every week there was a plug, a video premire, a performance, a frangrance line drop...get over yourself lady! And Jimmy should be a judge...OR the judges should actually give constructive criticism. W/O Simon we miss that kernel of truth. If they suck...tell them they suck!



JH's faces were HYSTERICAL! Loved that performance! That was the first time all season that Jessica looked like she was giving her all in a performance and putting on an actual show. You seen her personality come through...the passion. And all because shew as fighting like hell with JH over who can have the best run and make the ugliest face! That's when you've given the performance of a lifetime...when vessels in your head look like they're about to burst, when your insides feel like they're going to explode, when you make the ugliest faces imaginable,and when you look like you might actually die! That was a great performance! The rest were kinda lackluster.
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Cheers to all this! very well said lady :)
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I don't think he sings that great, jessica is so much better I wanted her to win
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Phillip Phillips picks Peter Pan Peanut-Butter, 'tis the peanut-butter picky people pick.
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could we see the votes break down?
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I think that they should change the way the votes are handled. The "judges" should have some type of say so in the final decision. We are letting the teenage girls of the world rule who wins on AI because they have nothing better to do but sit and vote until their fingers bleed. Jessica or Josh deserved to win last night, not someone who makes me cringe everytime that I watch him sing.

This is the last season of AI that I am watching, not that one person is going to make a difference but its ridiculous how the winner is decided, just like the MTV Movie Awards every year going to Twilight. I love the movie, but let Harry Potter win once in awhile. LOL.
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in my opinion, that's such a terrible idea...but i think the dictators would have picked the same winner as democracy did in this case.
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Phillip deserved to win just as much as the other two. They were all good this season. Just because Phillip Phillips may not be your musical taste/genre/style doesn't discredit him as an incredible performer and a good singer. Not to mention how humble he is. Say what you will, but America voted. Phillip is a great singer with a style that I, personally, love. Jessica is a good singer too, but she was boring and offered nothing unique. Phillip took songs, made them his, is fun to watch, and stayed true to himself the entire season. He deserved the win. Just because YOU didn't like him doesn't mean that Phillip didn't deserve to win.



And I'm a 26-year old dude. I voted for Phillip for two hours straight via phone and internet. I'm not a teenage girl. I wanted to support the guy and I did.



On another note, Twilight truly sucks (Sorry. Had to say it. That franchise makes me cringe. All. The. Time.) ;-)
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could not have said it better! i'm a 24 year old girl and i'm not girly and stuff, but i think i can safely say that i have good taste in music and phillip brings something to the table.. something different which is why he won.. congrats to him!



algo, twilight sucks and harry potter RULES!!!
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Agreed.
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"Phillip Phillips"? That's his real name? Is his middle name also "Phillip"?
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I hope so
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Absolutely. he should stand for the mumford and sons sound alike.

Best season ever.

Would invite steven and randy 2 leave...
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He's not as bad as the past three winners. Still white guy with guitar wins again. *sigh* Jessica and Joshua, hell even Skylar and Elise were way better vocalists, but Phillip Phillips is still pretty good. I'll probably support them all. This season has had some mad talent compared to previous ones.
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Agreed on them being better vocalists than Phil but there's just so much more to being a star than vocal ability. I felt that Joshua was far too gospel sounding and that pigeonholed him a little bit. I didn't feel him ever step out of that comfort zone, and really same with Jessica. No doubt they both had amazing voices though.
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Congratulations Phillip!!! You sure deserved it !
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Now fans need to SUPPORT the winner. I love how millions upon millions vote and look at winners like Lee Dewyze and Kris Allen? I mean they're nothing now so if you love Phillip, freakin' support him, Idol fans.



If you look at the past male winners since the last female won which was Jordin Sparks, what do all these guys have in common? Well in my opinion they're in this "down to earth" category. Maybe not David Cook so much but definitely Phillip, Scott, Lee, and Kris. But in the end, I'm sure like many know, so many girls vote for the "cute" guy. Which is surprising Colton wasn't higher but I don't know these things, haha.



I wish more pure, true singers would win but there needs to be a way better vetting process and with the judging now I don't see many changes. Simon and Kara were true judges.



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Quit airing this stupid show. That's what i'd do for season 12.
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Plus, I was so glad to see Heejun again :P
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I was SO happy with the outcome. His voice really kept my attention during this whole season, he's HILARIOUS and he's gorgeous. What more can you ask for? They keep saying that it's the same type of winner every year, but I disagree. Wow, he's white. Wow, he's male. Wow, he plays a guitar. But did 4 of the previous winners have voices like his? No.



The only time I was pissed off at American voters is when KRIS ALLEN won over Adam Lambert. That was outrageous. But Lee, Scotty, David and now Phillip were the obvious winners from the start. But Phillip is the best out of all of them for me.



If Adam Lambert won, then i wouldn't be able to say this lol



Although, I hope he will get some actual success after winning this show because all the other winners basically flopped.



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I agree Kris Allen winning over Adam Lambert was a travesty.
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most definitely!
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really you serious liked scotty over lauren? I wanted her to kick his butt in the finale....
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I wasn't a big fan of him but it was obvious everyone else loved him lol
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That's aweZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz
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Really Happy Phillip won! He deserves it :)
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So happy Phil won. He's truly an amazing artist.

Hope J-Lo stays with the show.
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Yeah, someone spoiled the winner of one of those fashion shows last year and got their ass handed to them by the viewers for it. Just say "The Winner for American Idol Is In." I thought you guys had learned your lesson about that.
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Staff
See my answer below.
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ummm....why do you feel the need to have such a big spoiler in the title of the article? I dont watch AI anymore and knew he had won already but I have had a TV writer ruin the ending to a reality show season before and it is pretty irritating. Please realize that people haven't all caught the live telecast and many still wait for it to show up online or reruns to catch the episode.
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Staff
It's a live finale designed to be instant news. If you don't want to be spoiled, watch the show immediately and stay off the internet.
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and also, the name of the winner ISN'T in the tittle of the article so if you see something like "AND THE WINER IS......" and assume that Price is going to announce it here, then... look the other way man
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I agree with you Price. If I can drive home with the radio off and not get on facebook or twitter until I have time to watch it myself, the rest of the world can too.
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While I do agree with you, Price, I also think it fair to keep in mind that not everybody has the ability to watch shows live due to people having lives. Perhaps some people can't get to their DVR recording before they have to get on the internet or whatever.



Personally, I'll avoid Facebook, Twitter, or anything else I can if I can't watch a show right away. I just know that some people aren't respectful of the fact that not everybody can watch episodes of shows/reality TV live. That being said, however, I think it wouldn't be a bad idea to consider others before posting spoilers in a title of an article (which you must have changed, because I can't see Phillip's name in the article title...so good job, lol)



I watched it live, so no worries. However, sometimes I won't be able to watch a certain show live, get busy, but I'll still check TV.com for a review of one of my other favorite shows. I'd be pissed if I saw a spoiler headline on my daily visit to TV.com--which I visit like 5 times a day.)



Anyway. I hope that makes sense, I'm not attacking. I tend to keep in mind that my friends on facebook may not have watched certain things yet, so whenever I post about a show, I'll NEVER post spoilers in my status. I can't stand spoiling things for people, and I can't stand things being spoiled for me.
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I understand your point...although I feel for all the reviewers. It's getting increasingly more difficult to recap and review things because of how much has to be taken into account. I mean just how far can we go with it? I mean I've seen non Americans complaining about spoilers on a show that they won't see for another few months. I think common courtesy is to wait it out until you've covered the US time zones and then it's up to everyone else to steer clear of spoilers until then. In this information age it's near impossible to not be spoiled...but that's a heck of a lot to expect of people trying to do their job as well. When I'm trying not to get spoiled I avoid the internet pretty much...but shows like this..live shows, they show the results on the news that same night...it's on newspapers the next morning...no spoiler alerts either. It's hard to expect some of these people to accomodate so many. And unrealistic as well.
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